Josie and the Pussycats
starring: Rachel Leigh Cook, Tara Reid, Valerie Brown, Alan Cumming and Parker Posey
Apr 29, 2001
Last Friday, I went to see "Josie and the Pussycats." There, I said it. You think I'm a wimp, huh? Y'think I'm a pussy? Bring it, baby - I'll show you who's a fuckin' pussy. I'll tear off your head and pee in your neck-hole, and I'll splatter some of it on your shirt 'cause I'm 100% man and I don't take time to aim when I'm peeing, even when I'm peeing down your gaping, bloody neck-hole. Whaddya think of that? Huh? Punk-ass fuck-knob.
Okay, now that you are assured of my man-hood, I'll confess that I thoroughly enjoyed this movie. Normally, when seeing 70s television brought to the big screen, I leave the theater with a terrible taste in my mouth, like I'd been eating rancid fondue or singing along with a Sly and the Family Stone album. I think the whole idea is generally bad for one main reason - the things we thought were super-cool as kids may be cool to think about, and may bring back warm memories of childhood and adolescence, but, in reality, with a few important exceptions, they sucked. It's true.
I know I'm going to get blasted here - 70's and 80's nostalgia is huge right now. And I'll be the first to admit that I indulge in it a great deal - I own T.R.O.N. on DVD. I still own a vast horde of Star Wars and GI Joe action figures. But a lot of the things I remember fondly, the things I thought were the cat's ass as a kid, simply would not pass by today's TV and film standards. I mean, have you seen "Krull" recently? Or watched an episode of "Airwolf?" I caught an episode of "Family Ties" a few months ago. I must preface this by telling you I was among the hugest of "Family Ties" fans. I still think Michael J. Fox is one of the best actors television has seen. I remember exactly the moment when Courtney Cox broke up with Alex P. Keaton while "What did You Think" played in the background (My family was out somewhere for the evening, and I was home alone. I was lying on the floor in front of the TV, drawing a picture of the Disney Land monorail - we'd either just been to DL or were soon going - and eating some chocolate chips I'd snuck out of my mom's baking drawer.), and I was thoroughly enamored of Justine Bateman. Despite these wonderful memories, or perhaps because of them, I became physically ill as I watched this episode a few months back. Jokes were bad and ill-timed, acting was stiff and slow, the story was weak, and the production values horrible. I was sick at heart. And "Family Ties" is not alone, it is just one example.
So, back to "Josie and the Pussycats." I'm certain many people have fond memories of this comic book and cartoon. And, I was certain the movie got made because (like "the Beverly Hillbillies" movie) some writer or producer was among those who remembered it fondly, rather than because it would be good. But I was wrong.
First of all, the film shaped itself around a central concept that, by itself, is hip and funny. The film pokes fun at pop culture's (especially the music industry) preference of marketing and product placement over talent and quality. At the same time the film is making fun of this phenomenon, it is wholeheartedly embracing it - not a minute of film goes by without a major, prominent product placement of some sort. This tongue-in-cheek, self-contradictory approach lets the film breathe and come alive. The whole "Josie and the Pussycats" storyline is just wrapped around this central idea.
Writing and direction in the film are really nice, and dead-on in establishing the film's mood. The whole movie rolls along from one music-video style scene to another, pausing only to introduce a new character or conflict. The storyline is simple and predictable, but races forward with bubble-gum chewing glee. The jokes, some subtle, some UPN-blatant, are, almost without exception, well-timed and well-delivered, and often very funny.
Music is a central feature in this film, and the Pussycats' music (performed by Kay Hanley of the group "Letters to Cleo" - the girls just lip-synch) is really, really good. It's like Green Day Lite - kind of a girly pseudo-punk, like Joan Jet meets Popstars: lots of punky guitar riffs and pounding drums, with a lighter lyrical touch. I'll probably buy the soundtrack this weekend (right after I pee in your neck-hole) - I liked it that much.
And the acting and characterization is stronger than I've seen in a recent movie aimed at a teen audience. Alan Cumming and Parker Posey are hilarious as villains. The three central characters, played by Rachel Leigh Cook, Tara Reid and Rosario Dawson, are charming and likable. Even Carson Daly, who I normally regard as a gigantic boob (despite his name being featured in CSP articles two weeks in a row now), is even good in his brief cameo.
But the biggest laughs come from perhaps the most minor (but pivotal) characters in the movie - the NSync-style boy-band, DuJour. Played with unrestrained glee by Seth Green, Breckin Meyer, Donald Faison and Alexander Martin, these guys are the comic highlight of the film. I won't go into too many details, but just think "boy-band," a monkey named "Dr. Zaius," and the hit song, "Back Door Lover." (A side note: did you know that Seth Green and Breckin Meyer are long-time roommates, and still live together? I think Donald Faison moved in with them, too, after Ryan Phillipe moved out.)
Anyway, I give this film a huge thumbs up. It is fun and funny and watching it is a great way to spend an evening. Don't expect a lot of deep meaning or resounding moral statements or Oscar-winning scenes, but do expect to laugh a lot. And, enjoy the music, and the monkey.